When Cardinal Seán came out against Question 4 on the Massachusetts ballot, which proposes legalizing marijuana, I thought it was interesting he would choose to do so, but I agree with him that legalization is bad. Then he rallied the state’s other bishops and starting producing all kinds of videos that have been plastered on the Archdiocese’s Facebook page and I began to wonder at the amount of time spent on this.

Now I read that the Archdiocese is spending $850,000 on this campaign, and I begin to wonder why this is where we choose to spend our efforts. Even as the rumors have started to ramp up about yet another round of layoffs, buyouts, and/or early retirements in the Central Ministries (round eight or ten or whatever of the past 8 years) and as more and more of the collaboratives that are a central feature of the Disciples in Mission pastoral plan that’s supposed to re-evangelize fallen away Catholics encounter financial difficulties, why spend scarce dollars on this?

It’s not like this was a special gift for the purpose. Terry Donilon is quoted in the article that the funds come from “a discretionary, unrestricted central ministry fund.” Presumably one that could be used for evangelization?

“It reflects the fact that the Archdiocese holds the matter among its highest priorities,” Archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilon said of the donation. “It’s a recognition that, if passed, the law would have significantly detrimental impacts on our parishes, our ministries.”

And where in the list of priorities does evangelization fall? Let’s be honest, will pot smoking have that much of an effect on parishes? More than the continued loss of people from the pews who have become disillusioned and lack any real relationship with Jesus Christ in discipleship?

Or, if we wanted to use the money for an important political issue, how about we save it up for the next time doctor-prescribed suicide is inevitably pushed by its proponents. The Archdiocese spent millions in 2012 to defeat a very poorly worded ballot question. Will we have millions when the death-pushers come back more organized with a slicker message?

This may been a good time for the Cardinal to oppose marijuana. But the resources spent on it are misplaced priorities.

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